Review: James Bond: Blood Stone

Do you like James Bond? Do you like high action? Yes? Blood Stone is great for about four hours of exhilarating Bond action. It actually feels like you are James Bond, something that I feel only Nightfire and Goldeneye have pulled off in the past.

Blood Stone is quite the experience, the car chases, the over the top action moments. It’s just pure fun.

However, with all of these awesome action parts, you are stuck with quite a few firefight moments that honestly take way too much time. Enemies take too long to go down, long repetitive corridors and annoying enemy dialog spoil a lot of the fun. It’s kind of nitpicky to claim that the dialog is rather annoying, but it ranks up near the award winning “I WILL DESTROY YOU” line from Mass Effect.

The biggest downfalls are that the game is incredibly short, offers no replay value and it feels like you are playing a shell of a game, as the developers who made Blood Stone no longer exist. And it’s rather sad, because Blood Stone doesn’t do Bizarre Creations¬†justice. That and the fact that there will never be any patches, more maps, or bug fixes leaves the game rather dead. Don’t even bother with the multiplayer, I couldn’t get it to work.

And that’s the problem with Blood Stone, as amazing the action sequences are, there are a lot of design choices (or forced choices) that were made for the worst. Like for example, making all of James Bond’s cars handle like shit. It really spoiled the specular chase scenes, and to make it worse, a lot of the driving sequences require you to make split second decisions, something that Bond’s cars cannot handle at all, thus causing you to go for a dip in the pond. Again.

In the end, James Bond: Blood Stone has a lot of awesome action parts, but combined with confusing level design and fight sequences that honestly aren’t worth it, it makes up for a rather bland game. It has amazing set pieces, but the filling is just stale.

Verdict: PASS

Review: Yesterday

Yesterday I had a presentation, and then I ate ice cream and cleaned my apartment. After that I…what? oh.

So Yesterday, an adventure game that likes to dabble in multiple timelines and lots of crazy mystical cult folklore. You start off playing as two kids who are basically the equivalent of the boy scouts as they are going around trying to help out the homeless. At some point, they meet up with John Yesterday, a fellow who cannot remember what happened but for some reason has an odd Y scar on his hand.

The story is very convoluted up until you reach the midpoint of the game, where the plot sways between real suspense and predictability. That said, Yesterday does have a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat, and manages to pull off a great atmosphere.

Because the music, dear god the music, it’s not the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard, but it really brings feeling to the game’s locations as well as its characters. In fact, it’s easy to tell that the budget was mostly spent on the fantastic art (not as much as the 3d models), voice acting and fairly decent music. In fact, it was the backgrounds that really, really, really, really got me interested in this game.

Yes, I know this is not as interesting, but if I showed anything else, it would be spoiler city.
So in order to be spoiler free, I've decided to censor out the parts of the screenshots that give away the story.

Overall, the story was not as interesting, and truth be told, all the screenshots on the store page of the game give away A LOT of events before they happen. Which is quite unfortunate, because I’d get into a really neat segment and then I’ll remember a screenshot and the following pops into my mind: “Oh, the character survives in the end because they were in that screenshot of that place I haven’t been to yet. Man, I could really go for some chocolate right now. I wonder if the world is made of butter….pannnnnnnts.”

In all seriousness, I cannot stress this enough: the screenshots on the storepage really do hurt the game more than help it, considering the game is only about three hours long and you can beat it in a single sitting and basically move on.

It is quite unfortunate as there isn’t any other point to actually exploring anything any further, considering you basically have to interact with everything on your first playthrough to actually progress through the story.

And that’s where I have to mention the puzzles. The difficulty curve of Yesterday starts out by just throwing you out into a tunnel and basically saying: “wait, you wanted to know how to play? Fuck you, solve this puzzle. Are you confused? Here’s a hint: ‘Solve it, you idiot.'” And then the subsequent hints are no help either.

I admit that there are some puzzles that are fairly trivial, but the majority of Yesterday’s puzzles have incredibly incomprehensible solutions. The game expects you to know stuff that unless you were on the team making the game (or you are into odd culty stuff), you wouldn’t know. For example, at one point I had to figure out the alchemy symbols for Mercury, Fire, Sulfur and Salt. There are no other clues in the game to help you solve what symbols they are, you are just expected to know them already. Do you know the symbols for these elements offhand? Shut up.

Yay for solving!

I have to mention, getting shot with a gun means nothing in this universe. People get shot in the head and literally stand back up again. It’s incredibly stupid, especially for a game that at least tries to be realistic in the first segment.

Overall, Yesterday is a game where, quite frankly, you have a small experience and then you’re pretty much done. It’s like an ice cream cake, you have it, and in three hours it goes bad because you forgot to freeze it.

Yesterday is a great little experience that’s pretty interesting, but is it worth $30? Hell no.

Verdict: PASS

Review: Dear Esther

Dear Esther,

It’s with a broken heart, and a frail mind that I write to you. I spend days on the island contemplating the existence of man. I tread long, and tiring paths leading to what I hope to be is redemption. Many of my letters are scattered here, I watch as the grass sways in the ocean breeze, taking my letters and delivering them to the sea.

I contemplate life, read the scrawls splattered on the walls. Who made these, why was it written? My life torn apart. I grow old Esther, old like this island that I’m forced to spend my last days on. Maybe it’s punishment.

Or maybe I’m already dead, exiled to my last thoughts as a being. The path I travel on is split in many ways. Do I go left, or right? Or does it not even matter? Maybe I will never find the answers, maybe I will understand. While this mystery may never have a solution, I am glad to at least experience it.

The accident left crevasses into my mind and out from the cracks sprawl the nightmares of a thousand demons. He wasn’t drunk. He was not drunk.

But as long as I remember you, my dear Esther, then you are still alive to me.

And one day, I will float to the sea.



Verdict: BUY

Review: Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Assassin’s Creed has been one of my favorite series of all time, and Brotherhood was a fantastic installment in the series. Assassin’s Creed Revelations tells the final chapter in the story of Ezio, an Italian assassin who is on a journey to find six keys so he can find a secret that Altair (the guy from the first game) has hidden in an rustic castle.

But really, you are Desmond, who is in a coma from the last game, thus his best “friends” decide that the way to keep him alive is to throw him into a machine called the Animus so he can relive Ezio’s life so that can save his. However, that doesn’t go as well as they expected and Desmond loses his grip on reality! That’s totally what we wanted! And now he is banished to living in a reconstructed subconscious called Animus Island.

This setup promises that you literally fight to survive, thus Revelations is obviously going to be a super exciting iteration of the Assassin’s Creed series, right?

I'm 50 years old and at the top of my game AND ALSO THIS TOWER! Take that 20 year olds! I'm so hip! OH SHIT, MY ARTHRISTIS

NOPE. In fact, this is a pretty poor version of Assassin’s Creed. The single player is incredibly short compared to Brotherhood, and does not feature a lot of the fun mechanics that breathed life into the series. In fact, it feels like Ubisoft decided that their previous designs were way too good, so they scrapped them in order to make something terrible.

And they did that by improving fucking up how the characters look and feel. Ezio, who I understand is older, moves like he is a drunken man with two broken legs and afflicted with several seizures. Yet during loading sequences, Ezio moves like a bullet, which is totally how he maneuvers in the actual game. You’d think a game that requires a lot of sneaking, escaping, chasing and climbing would feature a character who would be able to do that, right? Guess not.

However, it’s not all that bad. Ezio’s poor movement can be forgiven a bit, thanks to the introduction of the glorious hookblade, which is singlehandedly the most useful item in your arsenal. You can use the hookblade to grab people, trip people, jump faster, grab ledges easier and use it to zoom down the few ziplines around the main world. Unfortunately, I found that ziplines tended to go in the direction I didn’t need to go in, thus rendering their usefulness pretty abysmal.

Because using the hookblade is fucking sweet!

Speaking of not being able to use stuff to your advantage, I would like to point out that bombs are the most worthless item in the universe. You will only ever use them when the game tells you to, because why the fuck would you use them at any other point in time. They take way too long to explode, do barely any damage, and alert everyone in the nearby area to you. You might as well just use your Assassins to handle any diversions, because the Assassins bar reloads faster than it takes for a bomb to explode. And even though you can make bombs of various types, you’ll only ever use the impact bombshell, because all the other ones are so rare.

The faces of every character look absolutely terrible. I still understand that everyone is supposed to be older, but the facial animation looks horrific. And who was in charge of this amazingly handsome face? Mrrawr, rawr.

Subject 16 Face
Hi gurls

Sadly, you don’t get to see this glorious face all that often because you are going to be way too busy playing the super fantastic, totally awesome tower defense minigames! OH BOY! In these sequences, you are faced with real time strategy using a currency system with a fixed earning rate, thus you are constantly trying to catch up with the Templars who have flamethrowers while you still have crossbows and rocks. Oh joy!

These minigames are extremely annoying, because the game pulls stupid ploys so that the player can never get a 100% synch for them (which requires you to not lose any units). And just in case you were managing to defeat the Templars, ACR will throw war machines and overpowered bomber units who can destroy any barricade in one shot. Wait, you wanted to win? Nope.

Which would be just a platformer, but something feels similar...

Now remember Animus Island? That’s where you go to talk to Subject Sixteen (and his incredibly sexy face) and allow Desmond to focus on his past.¬† It’s really annoying because Desmond is a whiny bastard and his levels have a Portal-esque platforming feel but without the Portals. The worlds are cool looking, but that’s just to hide how frustrating they because Desmond cannot jump for crap and falls off platforms really easily because his shoes are made out of butter.

Even so, the missions still have the Assassin’s Creed feel, but a lot less of the “run around in ancient ruins”, “race some thief/assassin”,¬† and “chase this escaping Templar in an old crypt” missions. Many of those mission types don’t even exist anymore, which is both good and bad. I liked the ancient ruins puzzles where you climbed around a lot. Those were pretty fun, Revelations has about three of them in total, and they pale in comparison to the ones featured in Brotherhood.

Luckily, Revelations redeems itself with its multiplayer. The netcode has been dramatically improved. Games are incredibly easy to find and they handle like a dream. My only complaints are that there are not enough maps, and the fact that you have to buy weapon upgrades (not with real money, mind you) is lame.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed Revelations is a testament to the fact that just because you can have six development studios working on a game at once in order to push it out in a year, doesn’t mean the game is going to be very good.

Verdict: PASS (but buy it if it is on sale)

Review: Fortix

Fortix is just one of those lightcycle snake flash games that were really popular back in 2004. Obviously, it has a different design, but that’s about where the game stops innovating. You box in your enemies and try to take over land by drawing even more boxes using the most broken control system ever.

The game looks nice and the developers spent quite some time in the visual appeal department, while shunning the issues with the gameplay.

You’ll get bored with this game rather quickly.

Verdict: PASS